“I hear the door swing open, I take off my headphones, and all of a sudden I hear, ‘This is why I love San Francisco!’ ‘OMG, this makes me so happy!’ It never gets old, and it sends shivers up my spine.”
Who actually hears things like this about their office (home or regular)? It’s par for the course when you work at The Secret Alley, which Thrillist once described (accurately) as ” a private artist workshop-cum-performance space-cum-office park-cum-clubhouse o’ fun built inside of a second-floor walk-up in the Mission.”
We’re ever so glad to take a break from pandemic stories to listen to how this special place came to be. In today’s podcast episode, we learn about how The Secret Alley made a space in a nondescript building into such a unique community hotspot.
Secret Alley cofounder Noel Von Joo shared his tale on stage at Muni Diaries Live in 2019. Listen to his story here:
It might be a while before we can return to this wonderful space, where our friends at BFF.fm and Roll Over Easy also broadcast their shows. But we are going back to our roots, collecting and publishing stories for the ol’ internets about the people and places that make our city what it is today. If you have a story to share, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And it would absolutely make our entire day if you review us on Apple Podcasts and shared this podcast with your friends.
This episode features songwriter Jefferson Bergey, a professional musician based in Oakland and a regular performer at Bawdy Storytelling. He wrote a new song called “Give Up Your Seat” just for Muni Diaries, and even added a sexy love song about BART as a bonus to this episode. We highly recommend you put on those headphones (or blast it at full volume!) to add some levity to your day—especially now that “NSFW” is mostly “Are your kids in the room?”
While many of us haven’t been on a bus lately, we will continue to bring you stories from everyday San Franciscans. Nothing says “we’re in it together” more than that collective shout of, “Back door!” forever burned into our brains and hearts.
Aw man. We’re sad to say that we’re postponing Muni Diaries Live, scheduled for April 4. We don’t have a new date in mind yet, but we’ll be watching the advisories closely to make sure we’ve cleared any danger zones. As battle-hardened as we all feel by riding public transit in San Francisco, a pandemic is something else entirely. We’ll announce our new date as soon as we can, whenever we can safely celebrate life in this weird, wonderful city over anxiety-free drinks and stories.
Twice a year we celebrate the surprising stories that happen between strangers on Muni and BART, and we are returning to Rickshaw Stop on April 4th to celebrate 12 years of documenting commuter life in San Francisco. Tickets to Muni Diaries Live are on sale now, and we can’t wait to see you there!
Our stellar lineup:
Dushka Zapata is a Quora superstar and author of Amateur: An Inexpert, Inexperienced, Unauthoritative, Enamored View of Life and Love Yourself and Other Insurgent Acts That Recast Everything, and more. Having worked in the communications industry for more than 20 years, she helps companies and people put into simple terms who they are, what they do, and where to go next.
Becca Henry is San Francisco born, raised by wolves, and got her start on stage performing comedic burlesque before buying new bras and making her way into standup. Known for her distinctive voice and commanding presence, Becca brings her brand of fierce, awkward humor and tales of personal chaos to take audiences through her debased thoughts, unique perspectives and impressive range of octaves.
Lia Smith has been published in Ms., Seventeen, and literary magazines Bamboo Ridge and Other Voices. She’s been riding Muni since she first arrived in San Francisco at age seven. She is currently collaborating with her artist husband, Keith Ferris, on an art book about Muni, a collection of portraits and interviews of operators and drawings of passengers. Muni has always been a lifeline for her: No matter how long or inconvenient the wait, once the bus arrives, all my cares drop away.
Rachel Swan covers transportation for the San Francisco Chronicle. She was born in Berkeley and grew up riding BART, Muni, and AC Transit. Now she takes mass transit with her two daughters.
Jesús U. BettaWork is a local comedian who has performed throughout the Bay Area and beyond. He hosts the “You Betta Work Comedy ¡Fiesta!” at the San Mateo County Pride Center every third Friday.
Wonder Dave is a writer, comedian and performer from Minneapolis, MN, now living in California. He has toured the country performing at poetry venues, schools, cabarets, science fiction conventions, burlesque shows, bowling alleys, and independent wrestling shows. He has been a featured storyteller on the Risk podcast. Dave’s poetry has been published in anthologies by Write Bloody, Lethe Press, and Sibling Rivalry Press.
Storyteller Annette Mullaney is a standup comic based in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle named her one of six “comics to catch” in the Bay Area. She describes her comedy as self-deprecating, feminist, existentialist, smart, vulgar, and full of big words to prove she’s been to grad school (fair, I’d do it, too). In this episode, she shares an emotional rollercoaster of a BART story that took a long time to see the light of day. But we’re so glad she worked up the courage to share.
This recording is from Muni Diaries Live in November 2019, when Annette regaled the crowd with this tale. We promise you’ll never think of feminism, laundry day, or leggings the same way. Here’s Annette:
Muni rider Maureen Bogues didn’t think a ride back from a baby shower would be quite so eventful. Staring into screen-addicted oblivion on the way home, a mugger grabs her phone and takes off. Fueled by a combination of adrenaline and reflex, she chases after them. What would you do in this situation?
In this week’s podcast, Maureen shares the details of that eventful ride, culminating in a truly unexpected journey home.
We’ve heard of other riders taking bus justice into their own hands, and while a lot of those tales had happy endings, we wouldn’t go so far as to recommend that approach. Like the bus robot says, when in doubt, “keep your eyes up and your phones down when riding a Muni vehicle.”
This podcast episode was recorded at Muni Diaries Live last month at Rickshaw Stop. But you don’t have to be a stage alum to land on our podcast; our inbox is open if you have a Muni tale to share. Pitch your story at email@example.com.
We uncovered thousands of Muni stories by exploring every nook and cranny—ew, not literally—of the commuter experience. Our next step is doing the same about the entire city. Those of you who’ve been following our podcast know this as our sister project, San Francisco Diaries, and it exists because we know that even after nearly 12 years of collecting stories, we’re just scratching the surface (also ew, not literally) of San Francisco living.
We’re returning to Betabrand Podcast Theater on Thursday, Oct. 3, for an evening dedicated to “hidden San Francisco” with two special guests who have walked 49 miles of our city.
Kristine Poggioli and coauthor Carolyn Eidson became the first people known to have walked San Francisco’s historic 49 Mile Scenic Drive—not in one day (like these crazy cats at the Chronicle!), over one year. They did it by dividing the route into 17 bite-sized walks. At our live podcast event, we’ll chat with them about what they’ve found on their walk, and invite you to share some of your hidden gems too. Tickets are only $5, so grab one today.